The Selling of The President in 1968. Much as the 1960 Presidential election changed the way politics was marketed to the American people, by 1968 it had become an industry and a science.
During the election of 1968, journalist and writer Joe McGinniss was covering the campaigns, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the emergence of Richard Nixon as the President of the United States. How the playing field had changed and how the role of President was viewed more as a commodity than a leader of the Free World.
1968 was no simple year – many have said it was the year that America was in danger of being swept up in a revolution, a political upheaval brought on by the Vietnam War, the protest movements, the Civil Right movement, the Poverty and inequality among Americans and the dawning of the Youth Culture and the Baby Boom Generation.
It was no longer business as usual and the War in Vietnam was draining the country of its resources; physically, economically and emotionally. We were a nation that watched in horror as an assassins bullets cut down a Presidential candidate and a Civil Rights leader – how the city of Chicago was turned into a battlefield between protestors and the Police. How cities were turned into flaming heaps of rubble by anger and frustration. It was a year that saw a sitting President decline re-election and a growing divide between people over politics.
And so McGinniss wrote about the spectacle, saw the changes and conveyed the perplexity confronting most Americans during that pivotal year. And it became a best-seller.
As a reminder of just how far we’ve come (or how far away we’ve gone) from our original process of electing a President, here is that interview with Joe McGinniss for the Harper’s Weekly radio program At Issue from February, 1970.